Our U.S. Team

The journey to start Allies began when Chris visited a Russian orphanage with his church on a short-term mission trip. Learning about the plight of orphans in Russia broke his heart and birthed a determination to save the lives of those children. Allies was formed in 2011 to help orphans and has since transformed the lives of thousands of children across four continents.

Chris holds a B.A. from Mississippi State University and a Master’s of Religious Education from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Ten years as a small business owner and 15 years on staff at a local church provided Chris with the leadership skills and know-how to successfully create an organization that will influence generations across the globe.

Dr. Tatiana Baeva is responsible for instituting the mentorship program that has become the core of how Allies in Youth Development has changed the lives of thousands of orphans. She is our liaison between the United States and other countries where she continues to expand our connections around the world.

Dr. Baeva has a Ph.D. in Russian and a master’s degree in English. She taught Russian, literature, and other subjects at Russian and American universities for 18 years, 10 of which were at University of Texas at Arlington. She created a summer abroad program for UTA and has taken students to Russia for several years, including trips with Allies.

She also volunteered for six years editing the Russian literary and art magazine Leaves. Her hobbies include reading, languages and bilingualism, early childhood education, and neurosciences. Dr. Baeva loves to work on projects helping children and people in need.


Originally from Huntsville, Alabama, Karen attended Harding University in Arkansas and earned bachelor's and master's degrees from Abilene Christian University. Since 1993, her career in nonprofit fundraising included working at schools, universities, a mission organization, and a children's home before coming to Allies in 2019. Karen has a passion for the well-being and salvation of children, especially orphans, and is devoted to encouraging others to partner with this cause. 

Karen and her husband, David, live in Keller and have two married children and one precious grandson. They are active members of The Hills Church in North Richland Hills.


Born and raised in Fort Worth and a Texas Christian University graduate, Suzan brings 28 years of fundraising and development experience to Allies. Her previous job titles include Director of Special Events and Director of Development for Fort Worth Christian School as well as Director of Public Relations and School Development at Mount Dora Christian School in Florida. She also worked with Partnership Engagement and Let’s Start Talking Ministries.

Suzan and her husband, Jay, live in Hurst. They have four children and four grandchildren and attend Gateway Church in North Richland Hills.


Margie grew up in Mississippi before moving to Texas in 2005. She left her 20-year career as a lead revenue analyst at Atmos Energy Corporation in 2016 and enjoyed volunteering at various nonprofit organizations. Margie was introduced to Allies through her church and volunteered for several years before God and His miraculous ways led her to join the Allies staff in December 2017.

She loves working alongside Allies volunteers and building relationships with others. Margie also had the privilege of traveling to Russia with Allies twice where she felt at home with the area leaders and enjoyed witnessing the positive impact of the mentoring program on the children.

Margie enjoys reading, designing and drafting residential home plans, and traveling. She has two grown daughters.


Debbie has been passionate about volunteerism and missions since she was a young adult. She and her husband, Bob, have taken countless mission trips both at home and abroad and have been members of Rush Creek Church for more than 20 years. Most recently, they opened their home to two Russian students during the first Omsk Student Cultural Exchange Program hosted by Allies in 2019.

Debbie has also been an interior designer for 34 years and owned her own design company for 28 years, but is excited to be working where her passion is by helping to empower orphans. Debbie and Bob live in Mansfield and have five children and nine grandchildren. .



Karen and her husband, Larry, have been loyal supporters of Allies from the beginning. Their hearts were touched when Founder and CEO Chris Burgin shared his vision for helping orphans. Karen and Larry always had a special desire to serve children and have taught children’s Sunday school at their church for many years.

Karen grew up in west Texas in Abilene and Cisco. She received a B.A. in business administration from Baylor University and had a 40-year career as a corporate tax accountant for several companies, including 24 years with Johnson & Johnson in Arlington. Karen and Larry live in Mansfield and have two daughters and three grandsons, the joys of her life.

Travis has served in ministry for the last eight years, most recently as pastor of Walnut Ridge Baptist Church West Campus in Mansfield. He graduated with a B.A. from Middle Tennessee State University and is currently finishing his Master of Divinity at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Travis became interested in the mission of Allies at the first banquet where he was touched by the testimonies of children and saw the need Allies met in their lives. He and his wife, Amy, have lived in the Dallas-Fort Worth area for the last 24 years where they are raising three children and two dogs.


Born and raised in Texas, Jennifer graduated from Texas State University with a B.S. in Communications. She has a passion to serve and make a difference in the lives of children and is excited to bring her many years of marketing and communications expertise to Allies.

Her experience includes working in various marketing roles at Sabre-Holdings for more than 14 years. She was also Director of Communications at Fort Worth Christian School and Director of Marketing at Platinum Dermatology Partners.

Jennifer lives in north Fort Worth with her husband, Steven, and they have two grown children. They are active members of Gateway Church.

Carla had an unexpected, sudden interest to learn about Russia’s history in the mid-1990s which then led to her studying the Russian language. Many years later, she felt an urgency to study Russian even more and soon after was at a retreat where a woman shared about her experience traveling to Russia with Allies the previous year. That connection paved the way for Carla to meet Chris and take her first trip to Russia with Allies in 2013. She has since journeyed on more than a dozen trips to Russia, Moldova, and Peru.

Carla was born and raised in Japan to missionary parents and has worked as an alliance sales manager at American Airlines for more than 25 years. She lives in Bedford and attends Ash Lane United Methodist Church, formerly Euless First United Methodist Church. Carla has a heart for helping people and takes the opportunity to do so whenever she can through her church and work.


Originally from Mount Joy, Pennsylvania, Heather graduated from Radford University with a bachelor’s degree in print journalism. She worked as a reporter for newspapers in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Virginia before becoming a stay at home mom for many years.

Heather and her five children live in Mansfield where they attend Life.Church Mansfield and enjoy serving the local community by volunteering at the library and nursing home. After a 2011 mission trip serving orphans in Haiti, Heather’s heart for orphans grew exponentially. She is honored to use her writing and editing background for an organization that is doing so much for children and others around the world.

Mike was born and raised in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and has worked with Allies for more than five years. He graduated from the University of North Texas with a B.A. in radio, television, and film where he also studied the Russian language and Russian history and literature. Since his college days, he hoped to one day travel to Russia and joining the Allies team in 2018 gave him that opportunity. Mike has since taken trips to Russia and Moldova with Allies and said it was very special to meet Allies volunteers in those areas.


Nick Williams assists in the execution of marketing initiatives and provides website development and web-related services. Nick graduated from Abilene Christian University with a Bachelor of Arts and dual major in Advertising and Graphic Design, after an initial interest in Computer Science. Nick and his wife, Rebecca, have been on short-term mission trips to Honduras, Philippines, Germany, Hungary and others. Nick and Rebecca also served as house parents for a children's home in Keller. Nick lives in the Fort Worth area with his wife, three sons, and two mixed lab dogs.

Shannon was born and raised in Oklahoma and earned a B.S. in psychology from Northeastern State University. She has worked in business development for over 16 years, but is excited to work for Allies so she can now use her skills to help others. She has been a volunteer for the Team Tony Cancer Foundation for several years and was a counselor for non-profit youth services, teaching adolescents independent living and various behavioral health skills.

Shannon has a grown daughter and one grandbaby, and lives in Waxahachie with her dog, Cowboy. She attends First United Methodist Church in Waxahachie.